I never appreciated how much good holiday food I've eaten in my life until I had to make it myself. Of course, Thanksgiving means that the turkey and all the fixin's make it to the [beautifully decorated] table. Christmas means another huge feast, not to mention, special breakfast, cookies, neighbor treats, gingerbread for the gingerbread houses, and oranges and nuts finding their way to the bottom of our stockings. Somehow, all these years, the tasty food has always made it to the table, and the only considerations I made were how I could fit both the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes on that little space still available on my plate.
Green Bean, Watercress, and Crispy Shallot Salad
Coarse Salt and Ground Pepper
1 Pound Green Beans, trimmed
1 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower
3 Shallots, thinly sliced crosswise into rings
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from one lemon)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. [they say to have a big bowl of ice water ready to go to dunk the beans, but I just scoop up the green beans with my seive and rinse the beans in cold water from the faucet. Less messy and a lot less work.] Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cook green beans in boiling water until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Cool green beans completely, then transfer to lined baking sheet and pat dry.
2. In a small saucepan, heat vegetable oil over medium-low. In a small bowl, toss shallots with flour. Working in three batches, fry shallots in oil until golden and crispy, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer shallots to paper towels and season generously with salt.
3. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, mustard, and olive oil to combine; season dressing with salt and pepper. Place watercress on a serving platter and drizzle with half the dressing. Toss with green beans and remaining dressing. Serve sprinkled with shallots. [not being a huge fan of fried things, I couldn't get over how much I loved these shallots!! They seem like a sophisticated indulgence, even though they are glorified onion rings.]
3 eggs, well beaten
4 ½ cups flour
1 cup warm water
½ cup shortening
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Soften yeast in ¼ cup warm water. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine dissolved yeast, eggs, 2 ½ cups flour, 1 cup warm water, shortening, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Beat until smooth. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. Cover. Let rise until double in bulk (about 1 hour.) Punch down and refrigerate overnight. Three hours before baking, roll out as desired. For dinner rolls, divide dough in half. Roll each half into a ½” thick rectangle. Spread with butter. Starting with the long side, roll up jelly-roll style. Cut in 1” slices. Place in greased muffin tins, cut side down. Cover. Let rise 3 hours. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until slightly brown. YIELD: 2 ½ dozen rolls.
VARIATION: ORANGE ROLLS
1/3 cup butter
½ cup sugar
Rind of 1 orange, grated
Combine ingredients. After rolling dough into two ½” thick rectangles, divide above mixture and spread on ½ of each rectangle. Fold rectangles in half. Cut each into 12 strips with a pizza cutter. Pick up each strip and gently stretch, then tie into a knot. Place on greased baking sheet with edges, making sure the ends of the dough are tucked underneath roll. Let rise 3 hours. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until slightly brown. Make sure they are baked through so they are not doughy. Drizzle with powdered sugar icing while warm. (Powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, dash of salt.)